Students participate in AAG annual conference

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) brings together members of the global geographic community. Many members of the UW-Madison Geography Department participate in the AAG annual conference – an event which attracts 8,000-10,000 attendees. The 2022 meeting was originally slated to take place in New York City from February 25 – March 1, but was changed to a virtual event as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to pose challenges for large in-person events nationally. We’re pleased to highlight Geography student participation in the conference this year.

Undergraduate students share their conference experiences…

Lily Houtman is a senior undergraduate student in the Geography Department and member of the UW Cartography Lab, advised by Dr. Robert Roth. She will continue her research in cartography at Penn State University in the Fall of 2022.

“This year I presented at the AAG in the Cartography Specialty Group Student Guided Poster Competition. I shared research from my senior honors thesis titled “Mapping Presidential Elections: An Empirical Analysis of Effective Design Techniques”. I was incredibly nervous to present, even though I have presented at conferences before, because this was the first time that I was presenting research that was completely my own, rather than joint work with my advisor. As is often the case, all of my nerves were for nothing! My presentation was well-practiced, and I even had the support of many UW undergraduate and graduate students who came to watch my presentation. I was nervous about questions from the audience, since I could prepare the least for that part. However, everyone’s questions were both kind and thought-provoking. No one criticized my research, as I feared. All questions either allowed me to share more about my research that did not make it into my initial five minute presentation, or pushed me to consider new directions for future research, which I may pursue in graduate school.

I hope the AAG will be in person next year, and that anyone from UW who wishes to attend is able to, especially at the undergraduate level. For those interested in academia, like me, this conference is a great way to share your work with the world in a low-stakes setting. The student competitions are particularly designed to make sharing undergraduate research easy. Even for those not interested in the academic world, presenting at a conference has an opportunity for a monetary prize (in some of the student competitions), and builds presentation skills that are also relevant to many industry jobs.”

Katie Porubcan is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in people-environment Geography, Conservation Biology, and Environmental Studies with a certificate in German language.

“Attending this year’s AAG Virtual Conference was an invaluable opportunity in which I was able to learn from some of the leading thinkers across the many sub-disciplines of Geography. I especially enjoyed being able to connect what I’ve learned in coursework at UW to session topics and supplement my existing understanding of geography with new viewpoints and research. The wide variety of session topics also allowed me to explore new areas of geography I have had little exposure to thus far. I am grateful for the generosity of the Department for sponsoring my participation at AAG, and I look forward to sharing all I have learned with fellow classmates both in and outside of Geography!”

Josh Riebe is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Cartography & GIS and Human Geography, with certificates in African Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies and German. He has served on the Undergraduate Affairs committee and the Geography Club executive board.  In the fall, he will be beginning his Master’s of Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I was so excited to finally attend an AAG conference, after not attending my freshman year and COVID canceling the next two conferences. And then COVID struck again, canceling this year’s conference, which hurt more after all the time I had put in to organize for a group of Geography Club members to attend the conference. While it was nice that AAG was held virtually, and that all of the sessions were recorded and are available for some time, I so wish that it were in-person. Apart from just having a trip mid-semester, it would have been nice to meet faculty and students from around the country and world who have similar interests to me. I also think this in-person experience would have beneficial for the other undergraduate students attending, especially those still on the fence about or new to geography.

While the conference was overwhelming due to the number of virtual sessions, and likely would have been similar in-person, I think it could have gotten undergraduate students excited about the field of geography and the wide breadth of the discipline. Hopefully future AAG conferences will be in-person, so that other undergraduate students can experience what I yearned to.”

Graduate students present and organize paper sessions/panels…

We’re pleased to highlight the impressive list of UW Geography graduate student presentations and panel sessions at the AAG 2022 Annual Conference (in order by presentation day/time during the meeting):

Sahil Sasidharan: “Another question of sovereignty? Contestations and biopolitics around Delhi’s land readjustment policy”

Meiliu Wu (Presenter), Yuehan Qin (Co-author), Dr. Qunying Huang (Co-author): “People-based Segregation Indices: Measuring Segregation with Individual’s Activity Space and Demographics in U.S. 50 Largest Cities Using Social Media”

Vignesh Ramachandran (chair), Kela Caldwell ( chair & presenter), Ruth Trumble (chair & presenter), Kallista Bley (organizer): Session: Critical Geographies of Disasters and Relief I to III

Luke Hingtgen (organizer & panelist), Danya Al-Saleh (organizer & panelist), Lauren Gerlowski (panelist): Session: Reading Volume II of Karl Marx’s Capital

Jane Zheng: “Shanghai as an Art Capital: Social Networks and the Geography of Artists, 1912-1948”

Luke Leavitt (panelist): Session: Space, Place, and Music: New Currents in the Geography of Music & Sound 1

Luke Hingtgen (panelist): Space, place, and Music: New Currents in the Geography of Music & Sound 2

Stepha Velednitsky (Chair & presenter) & Erin Clancy (chair & presenter): Session: Bringing Feminist Disability Studies to Geography

Vignesh Ramachandran: Session: The Archive, Research, and Archival Space 6: Refusals and Resistance

Lauren Gerlowski: “Dance, Precarity & Covid-19 in Two Global Art Cities”

Yuaho Kang (organizer & presenter); Jake Kruse (presenter): Session: AAG 2022 Symposium on Data-Intensive Geospatial Understanding in the Era of AI and CyberGIS: Urban Visual Intelligence
Yuaho Kang: “Human Settlement value assessment from a place perspective: Considering human dynamics and perceptions in house price modeling”
Jake Kruse: “Places for play: Understanding human perception of playability in cities using street view images and deep learning”

Author: Geography Staff